Ask the Expert

Bid Team Motivation and Engagement in Times of Change

Question by: Antonia Beale

We’ve had a lot of change in our bid team over the past months – people leaving and joining at all levels. From your experience, do you have any useful strategies for keeping existing and valued team members motivated and engaged in this situation?


Keeping people motivated when there’s no changes is hard enough! So I do empathise with your situation. Here’s some ideas to what I think keeps people motivated and engaged…

  1. Keep the quill sharp. Help team members stay on top of their game with structured learning plans, rather than “putting them through the one day training course”. Suddenly you’ll find people seeing a path forwards to professional development – one of the reasons why people feel valued. On-going training will keep them challenged to continually review if they are doing the right things. See our latest training prospectus for ideas on how you can build a programme to develop your team’s skill.
  1. Create real career paths. Introduce specialities and recognise the need for a range of skills across an effective team. Do you have document managers, writers, proposal managers, designers and reviewers within your team? Building these roles creates the opportunity for people to move horizontally in to new roles to learn new skills, as well as vertically to more senior positions as they hone their proposal skills.
  1. Engender team spirit. People need to feel like they are part of something special – a centre of excellence for their chosen career, in which the team comes together to do great things… learning, commiserating, celebrating, supporting as they go. Off-site team building, encouraging and canvassing feedback and reviewing previous submissions as a team – all help develop team spirit.
  1. Coaching TCUP (Thinking Clearly Under Pressure – coined by Sir Clive Woodward). Proposal people deal with lots of different characters and personality types in many different, high pressure environments. We need to be the chief ‘arse kicker’ one minute and then the sensitive and caring psychologist the next. How we learn to deal with these situations is a really important skill – Thinking Clearly Under Pressure is part of this. In team meetings, get the team to think about how they would deal with a tough situation. Ask people to share their experiences. In training, create real-life simulations to make the learning more applicable to real-life bidding situations.

Read more on TCUP here:

  1. Fair and performance-related pay – reward success and be a beacon of equality within your company. Push for bonuses on performance – on wins and externally validated quality benchmark levels. Meet the industry levels of pay – don’t get caught out with a high performer who’s under paid and then leaves; or someone who goes on maternity and you find out that they are on less than the market rate and you can’t get a like-for-like replacement.
  1. Get recognition – obtaining external benchmark ratings, going for APMP and other industry awards like BESMA – all of these help get recognition and develop a stronger sense to achievement and purpose for a team. Seeking internal feedback as well is crucial – praise from, and active involvement of, very senior execs will engender the sense of the proposal centre as the place to be, and of proposals being in the DNA of the company.
  1. Continuously improve ­– always be looking for something new. Adapt and change. Learning reviews are a source of ideas. But also encourage your teams to bring ideas in to the office – adverts, magazines, etc. Developing the sense of a ‘professional practice’ – in which people own different areas of the process, and actively research and share best practice further develops this idea. Being restless to improve. Brown bag sessions, show and tell and sharing ideas over tools like Yammer can all help.

Hope that helps?